From Bach to Charlie Parker - October 22nd 2013

This week the violin that band-leader Wallace Hartley played to calm passengers on the sinking Titanic  (how incredible was that) has sold for £900,000 and it made me think of my recent violin experiences in Orlando Jopling’s marvellous Roman River Music Festival. Saturday October 5th saw us arriving at St Andrews, Abberton a tiny church in Essex (M11, A Something, various winding country lanes and a long grassy footpath – beautiful views across the reservoir on arrival a plus but no chance of my hoped for espresso a bit of a negative). Bit unsure about a violin concert at 11am  (this because I am rather a novice when it comes to violin appreciation rather than my lack of Lavazza) and what to expect from Thomas Gould who was performing ‘From Bach to Charlie Parker’ at 11am however it was incredible. Thomas played four different Bach pieces each followed by piece by modern composer (I later found out they had been written especially for Thomas who is actually a bit of a star) in between playing Thomas chatted to the audience with a really nice combination of humour, wit and modesty (joking that we could leave any time and not mentioning that the music had been composed for him to play) – he came across as totally charming, looked like a half asleep rock star (he admitted it was early for him too – definitely a case for a church coffee shop) and played like an angel. The music was exquisite. And he did play some Charlie Parker as an encore – which was fab too!

After lunch on Mercer island (which actually is an actual island as the sea covers the only access road to it twice a day – which seemed very exciting to me) we went along to the much larger Stoke by Nayland Church ready for the Festival Choir Concert that evening. Violinist Anthony Marwood was the star attraction. As we arrived early and I didn’t fancy a walk around the village (no coffee shops) I sat alone in the church while Anthony played Britten and Mozart with the light from the stained glass windows dancing across the stage. It was such an intense experience, I had never quite appreciated how beautiful the violin could be. I enjoyed the evening concert too when Anthony was joined by the orchestra and choir but my practically private recital was the highlight.

I read later that Thomas plays a 1782 J.B.Guadagnin violin and Anthony plays a 1736 Carlo Bergonzi one. I wonder how much they would fetch at auction…

Anthony Marwood rehearses for his performance at Orlando Jopling's Roman River Festival

Anthony Marwood rehearses for his performance at Orlando Jopling's Roman River Festival

St Andrews Abberton - getting ready for Thomas Gould's early morning rectial

St Andrews Abberton - getting ready for Thomas Gould's early morning rectial